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Method for Driving Twin Ultramatics
Just popping in
Joined:
5/25 15:37:21
From Sewickley, Penna.
Posts: 3
Hello All,

I've recently purchased a 1955 Patrician that was sitting in storage for twenty years. I've been attempting to recondition it for regular summer use. Of course, the transmission needed rebuilding, and an excellent local garage has undertaken the task. It will be ready soon.

My question is: what can I do to ensure the transmission won't need rebuilding again for some time? I understand they are comparatively more reliable and require less maintenance than other fifties automatics, but are still too weak to hold up under the big V8. I intend to not much use the right arrow drive, as I understand this is what's more prone to wearing out. One of the reasons I find this car so well suited to me is I enjoy leisurely driving, that is, I won't be subjecting it to hard starts. I intend to check the fluid level at least every 1000 miles. Is there anything more I can do? How many miles can I reasonably expect from it before it gives out again?

Many thanks, and all the best,

JPG

Posted on: 8/20 6:58:27
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Re: Method for Driving Twin Ultramatics
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Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15253
Congratulations on your Packard and welcome to the forum. 55s are nice cars and I hope you will enjoy yours. As you said, the trans was by far the weakest link in 55s so if you are prepared to baby it a bit you should have a nice ride.

I would say the biggest help on a 55 is to ensure the extra extension piece for the throttle linkage is installed and then make sure the linkage is adjusted properly. The throttle pressure as controlled by the linkage is by far the most important adjustment you have any control over and the pressure being wrong in relation to throttle opening was probably one of the big destroyers of the 55s.

It is hard to say if any of the 56 valving and a few mechanical improvements were retrofitted but assuming none were then 55s had some learning curves with the valving and timing for certain things as well as the general weakness when coupled with the V8s. Best suggestion I can offer is just drive conservatively and try not to keep up with the muscle car crowd. Not knowing how thorough your rebuild will be there could be a noise when going into direct drive if the old hard and probably glazed direct drive clutch plate is still installed. The noise won't hurt anything but you can lessen it and save a bit of clutch lining and a jolt when the clutch grabs by letting off the gas when the transition is made.

The triangle to the left of D will provide you with smooth but somewhat lackluster acceleration since you are starting and staying in high range with a transition to direct drive just as the original Ultras operated. Throttle linkage and pressure is extremely important here because in addition to determining when the transition to DD happens the throttle pressure also determines how hard the high range clutch plates are squeezed together. If the linkage and pressure is out of spec the plates could be too loose and slide against one another causing heat and wear.

The triangle to the right of D will start in low, shift to high and then the transition into direct drive. The 55s had a bit of timing issues with the shift from low to high also determined by throttle pressure. Sometimes there would be no gear engaged for a brief period or both gears applied at once for an instant so just take it easy and don't force anything. Let the trans do its thing without a lot of power applied. The extension on the throttle link bar was to help in preventing unwanted kickdowns when nearing full thottle. 55s would actually kick down from DD all the way to Low at a fairly high speed which is another reason there were some serious issues with the trans longevity.

Posted on: 8/20 12:20:30
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Howard
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Re: Method for Driving Twin Ultramatics
Just popping in
Joined:
5/25 15:37:21
From Sewickley, Penna.
Posts: 3
Many thanks! Sounds promising indeed. I wonder too, are there any clutch materials available for relining the direct drive clutch on the stator? That seems to be the only snag the garage rebuilding my Ultramatic gas hit.

Posted on: 8/26 4:49:49
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Re: Method for Driving Twin Ultramatics
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15253
Kanter has direct drive clutch discs and the bands which are relined using modern friction material instead of the original cork. Modern material high range clutch discs are also available and I believe sold outright but DD clutch and bands are exchange items so you will need a core or a deposit which is refunded when the original item is shipped back.

Posted on: 8/26 5:55:21
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Howard
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Re: Method for Driving Twin Ultramatics
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Joined:
2007/3/14 16:01
From New Jersey
Posts: 15593
Agreed, don't even think about buying materials and relining the disc yourself, just buy a relined one from Kanter or one of the other vendors.

Posted on: 8/26 6:57:16
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